When I voted with the majority in favor of a New Business Item that called for an end to assessments driven by Common Core standards, I thought about the relationship of standards to high stakes tests.
When the NEA Representative Assembly began, I overestimated the degree to which there would be debate on the RA floor over the Common Core standards.
I did not make that same mistake when it came to the degree of anger over the use and misuse of standardized testing, both in general and testing driven by Common Core implementation.
There have been several New Business Items that condemned high stakes testing in one form or another. All of them passed by big majorities.
In an earlier post I tried to analyze the differences among classroom educators when it came to the Common Core. I would say that the second group, those who accept the Common Core standards – for all of their problems – but who want the tools and support to implement the standards well make up the overwhelming majority.
The way I look at it is that delegates here in Atlanta have a common sense approach to the Common Core. However, they reject the destructive consequences of high stakes testing on students and their misuse as tools when doing teacher performance reviews and evaluations.
I am aware that there is a problem when we begin to separate standards from curriculum, instruction, evaluation and assessments.
In fact, Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation is printed on top of my masters degree.
However, the NEA Representative Assembly is not a masters program. It is a very large business meeting, where policy is voted on by 7,000 people looking for common ground.
From my point of view, the resolutions on high stakes testing represent a strong stand by members of my union. And the best that could have come out of this meeting.
Anthony Cody, an educator who I greatly respect, writes this afternoon that the attempt by the NEA and AFT leadership to divide Common Core from its testing component is an error and a slippery slope.
I think we would be better off taking a position that exposes the Common Core standards and associated tests for what I believe them to be. Get off defense and mount a strong offense that exposes what is going on here. An effort to refresh the phony indictment of our schools as failures, in order to open up the market for semi-private charters, virtual charters, and vouchers for private and parochial schools. Collaborating on implementation with the promise of a fight when the tests arrive is like buying a lemon and hoping the mechanic can fix it later.
I agree with Cody.
But nobody should confuse the leadership of the two unions with the thousands of teachers and educators that are gathered here. They have chosen to address the Common Core one way and assessments and high stakes testing in another way.
They have done that for reasons that make common sense.
The NBI #35 that was passed this afternoon states:
In states where Common Core will be implemented the NEA will support and provide guidance to affiliates in advocating for a common sense plan that respects student learning time, limit the reliance on and investment in high stakes standardized tests and decreases the reliance on Common Core related tests in evaluating teacher performance.
And as teacher and union activist on the floor, I thought that was pretty damn good.